The Problem with Patience

So, you go to a movie and, despite several crafty ads from the theater company telling people to silence their phones and stop talking, some people just aren’t PAYING ATTENTION! How long will you wait to say something? Well, thank goodness, Timex, Inc. recently ran a survey on this kind of thing and the average moviegoer said they’d wait for (drum roll)… 1 minute 52 seconds. I assume that’s after the film has already started. Some of you are thinking, and I know who you are, “That’s way too long! I paid my money, I’m not waiting at all!” Others are like, “Well, maybe they have something important to talk about, I’ll give them some time. You never know someone until you walk in their shoes.” (This kind of person probably just doesn’t like confrontation.)

Patience. Man, what’s worse than having to be patient? Especially when you don’t have time for it. The doctor’s office, the line at the bank, the airport security process, the car in front of you at the stoplight.

I’ll tell you someone who has every right not to be patient. God. I mean, what’s the point of being God if you have to wait for things?

And yet, God, when he introduces himself to Moses (see Exodus 34) he specifically says that he is “compassionate and gracious and slow to anger.” He’s dealing with human beings and he’s “slow to anger”? I am a human being and they drive me crazy!

When you look up “patience” in the Bible, it says a lot about God being patient. It says that he is specifically being patient to give us more time to respond to him.

The apostle Peter wrote, “but you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

The Bible also talks a lot about our being patient, or rather how rare it is when we are. But it’s definitely listed as a virtue. Proverbs says it’s better to be patient than powerful, that a patient person has great understanding, that a “hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” The Apostle Paul says we should try to “be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

But most of the time we’re in a hurry, and we’re usually called upon to be patient when it’s very inconvenient. In fact, it’s almost impossible to be patient for very long in our fast-paced world. Maybe that’s why it’s called a “fruit of the Spirit.”

And that’s another thing. Have you ever watched fruit grow?

– Steve